United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
RICHARD A. JONES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendants MTD Products,
Inc.'s (“MTD”) and Sears, Roebuck and
Co.'s (“Sears”) motion for summary judgment
and to exclude testimony of Plaintiffs' expert. Dkt. #
Plaintiffs oppose the motion. Dkt. # 31. For the reasons that
follow, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the
claim that the lawnmower in dispute had a defective design
that caused the machine to malfunction, slipping out of gear
and failing to break on a steep downhill slope. See
Dkt. # 21 (First Amended Complaint). Defendants move the
Court for summary judgment, in large part, because they
disagree with the credibility of Plaintiffs' expert's
judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving
party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Where the moving
party will have the burden of proof at trial, it must
affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact
could find other than for the moving party. Soremekun v.
Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir.
2007). On an issue where the nonmoving party will bear the
burden of proof at trial, the moving party can prevail merely
by pointing out to the district court that there is an
absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's
case. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 325. If the moving
party meets the initial burden, the opposing party must set
forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of
fact for trial in order to defeat the motion. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). The court
must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that
party's favor. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing
Prods., 530 U.S. 133, 150-51 (2000). Credibility
determinations and the weighing of the evidence are jury
functions, not those of a judge. Anderson, 477 U.S.
the court need not, and will not, “scour the record in
search of a genuine issue of triable fact.” Keenan
v. Allan, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); see
also, White v. McDonnel-Douglas Corp., 904 F.2d 456, 458
(8th Cir. 1990) (the court need not “speculate on which
portion of the record the nonmoving party relies, nor is it
obliged to wade through and search the entire record for some
specific facts that might support the nonmoving party's
claim”). The opposing party must present significant
and probative evidence to support its claim or defense.
Intel Corp. v. Hartford Accident & Indem. Co.,
952 F.2d 1551, 1558 (9th Cir. 1991). Uncorroborated
allegations and “self-serving testimony” will not
create a genuine issue of material fact. Villiarimo v.
Aloha Island Air, Inc., 281 F.3d 1054, 1061 (9th Cir.
2002); T.W. Elec. Serv. V. Pac Elec. Contractors
Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).
resolving a motion for summary judgment, the court may only
consider admissible evidence. Orr v. Bank of
America, 285 F.3d 764, 773 (9th Cir. 2002). At the
summary judgment stage, a court focuses on the admissibility
of the evidence's content, not on the admissibility of
the evidence's form. Fraser v. Goodale, 342 F.3d
1032, 1036 (9th Cir. 2003).
wish to exclude the testimony of Plaintiffs' expert,
Patrick D. Riedlinger. See generally Dkt. # 26.
Defendants do not question Mr. Riedlinger's credentials
but rather argue that his “opinions are untested,
unreliable and depend on the type of circular logic that
Daubert and Rule 702 were intended to
prevent.” Id. at 7. The Court finds that the
balance of Defendants' arguments amount to credibility
judgments. Indeed, the Court agrees with Plaintiffs'
representation that Mr. Riedlinger “uses over 30 years
of engineering experience, research, investigation, and
production inspection/testing” to do his work as an
expert witness. Dkt. # 31 at 6. Because the issue of his
credibility is an issue for the jury, the Court declines to
exclude Mr. Riedlinger's testimony on summary judgment.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.
Washington Products Liability Act (WPLA)
also seek summary judgment on each of Plaintiffs' product
liability claims. Dkt. # 26 at 6. “The WPLA, RCW 7.72
et seq., is the exclusive remedy for product liability claims
in Washington.” Kirkland v. Emhart Glass S.A.,
805 F.Supp.2d 1072, 1076 (W.D. Wash. 2011). The statutory
framework authorizes claims for manufacturing and design
defects, and the failure to warn. Id.; see
also RCW 7.72.030. Defendants' arguments for summary
judgment on Plaintiffs' manufacturing and design defect
claims are largely premised on the
unreliability of Mr. Riedlinger's testimony and Mr.
Corning's. However, the Court finds this testimony
admissible and therefore genuine disputes of material facts
exist as to these claims. These claims will continue to
argue that Plaintiffs “failed to demonstrate that any
alleged lack of adequate warnings or instructions proximately
caused their injuries.” Dkt. # 26 at 25. Indeed,
Defendants present deposition testimony from Mr. Corning
evidencing his awareness of the risks involved in driving the
lawnmower and the futility in any additional warnings. Dkt. #
26 at 26 (citing Mr. Corning's deposition); see
also Dkt. # 27-1 at 36-39 (Mr. Corning testifying that
he was familiar with the warning labels on the lawnmower).
Plaintiffs do not rebut this contention and fail to offer
evidence to the contrary. Accordingly, summary judgment is
appropriate on Plaintiffs' failure to warn claim as there
is no genuine ...